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Arizona Attorney General seeking execution warrants for two death row inmates

Atwoods left Dixon right.png
Posted at 2:31 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 19:46:09-04

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Tuesday that he is seeking execution warrants for two death row inmates who he says "have exhausted all of their appeals."

The move comes a month after the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry (ADCRR) sent a letter to Attorney General Mark Brnovich saying the department was ready to begin executions in the state.

Brnovich said the attorney general's office is asking the Arizona Supreme Court to establish a "firm briefing schedule" before issuing the execution warrants so it can comply with ADCRR's testing and disclosure obligations based on the drug that will be used in the executions.

The attorney general's office said death row inmates Frank Atwood and Clarence Dixon will have the option to pick either lethal injection or gas.

“Capital punishment is the law in Arizona and the appropriate response to those who commit the most shocking and vile murders,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich, in a release. “This is about the administration of justice and ensuring the last word still belongs to the innocent victims who can no longer speak for themselves.”

In September 1984, Frank Atwood kidnapped and murdered 8-year-old Vicki Lynn Hoskinson, whose body was later found in the Tucson desert a year later.

In January 1978, ASU student Deana Bowdoin, 21, was raped, strangled and stabbed to death in her Tempe apartment. About 20 years later, technological advancement helped match DNA evidence to Clarence Wayne Dixon, a man serving a life sentence in prison for a 1986 sexual assault. Dixon had lived across the street from Deana Bowdoin at the time of the murder.

The attorney general's office said about 20 out of the 115 inmates on Arizona's death row have currently exhausted all of their appeals with many of their crimes dating back to the 1970s and early 1980s.

Arizona’s executions stopped for several years because pharmaceutical companies were unwilling to sell the drugs for lethal injections. Now the State of Arizona has found a supply. Attorney General Mark Brnovich did not reveal who’s making it possible for executions to resume.

ABC15 asked Brnovich how confident he was that the state would not have a repeat of the last execution in 2014, when inmate Joseph Wood had to be administered the lethal injection drug combination multiple times over two hours before he died. Wood's lawyers have called it a "botched" execution.

"I guess I would disagree with that premise. At the end of the day, the medical examiners and other experts said that the killer was unconscious the whole time. There is no evidence he suffered in any way," said Brnovich. "Make no mistake about it, both of these individuals have been on death row for decades, both have brutalized young women and both of them were convicted of multiple felonies, and the ultimate crimes deserve the ultimate punishments."